Harper: Filled with Meetings

I am coming up on the second week in Harper.  The first week has been filled with meetings.  We managed to meet with six of the eight schools who will be part of the project, and we introduced the selected students and their principals to the concept of the project and their role in it.  These meetings sometimes had a wild goose chase feeling in which the students had already left when we got to it, hadn’t shown up, or came unexpectedly to our compound when we had planned to come to their schools.   We arrived at our first school meeting during a heavy downpour of rain.  Laurie and I were told that we couldn’t expected very many of the students because of the rain.  While we waited under the eaves for our seven selected students to appear Laurie and I watched as a soaking wet child who was also pretty dirty took his shirt off and tried to wring it out.  The rain will drench you if you have no protection from it.  We held an introduction about half an hour later but without some of the selected students, leaving us to worry that these students would not get the message from others about the program and our plans to meet the following week.  One of the participating students is extremely withdrawn.   Roland Nyemah is a small 13 year old, but his expression was so serious and sad, that he didn’t seem like a child.  He wasn’t expressing any of the usual energy, curiousity, and openness that one is used to seeing in children, he seemed ages older. At this school, which was my first introduction to the Liberian public schools, I found that the students’ grade doesn’t correspond to their age much of the time.  Some are teenagers in second grade, and other  eleven and ten year olds are in the third and fourth grades.  It has to be difficult for teachers to teach their different levels of development.  I also noticed an older student walking around with a distubingly large switch, which I heard is not used lightly.  At this school I met a young student missing a leg.  This was sad to see someone so young who has this kind of major injury, maybe as a result of direct violence  on him as a toddler during the war. He was so natural with it at the same time though, moving around like kids do with lots of energy on his crutches. 

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